Childhood memories of my mother, an obstetrician and gynaecologist, cycling off in the middle of the night to deliver a baby in one of the poorest districts of a sprawling Indian city had a profound impact on me. India gave me a great a love of travel and exploration. My commitment to disadvantaged people stemmed very much from my mother’s work. I combined both elements by setting up a tiny charity, the Journey of a Lifetime Trust (JoLt), which takes disabled and disadvantaged teenagers on challenging month-long expeditions. As senior leader on these expeditions (1984-2010), I learnt to cope with various challenging situations including dealing with a bi-polar disabled boy threatening to take someone hostage with a knife at an airport in Central America.
In 1993 to celebrate the 10th anniversary of JoLt, I organised my first fund raising expedition. Ten women canoed, kayaked and white-water rafted the length of the Zambezi between Zimbabwe and Zambia. We slept on the banks of the river to the sounds of the roars of lions in the background. One of our canoes was attacked by a crocodile, rafts overturned in the swirling waters of the Zambezi and we were charged by a buffalo. Undaunted, I and the other women concerned have continued to organise and participate in fundraising expeditions including walking across the Andes following paths that had not been used for 50 years, trekking through Nepal on elephants and being the first women to raft the Kuamut River in Sabah, Borneo.
Post fracturing and dislocating the head of my femur in March 2011 and being diagnosed with breast cancer later that year (all sorted by our wonderful NHS), I now usually participate in two major expeditions each year. Recent expeditions include crossing the Bayuda Desert in Sudan on a camel and trekking by foot and by horse in the Altai mountains in the furthest western corner of Mongolia where Mongolia, Russia and China meet and where the Kazakh people live (mainly nomads). Weather was particularly challenging - we even had snow storms (in August!) with thunder and lightning.
However, my greatest joy, contentment and happiness come from my family. Bill and I have been married for 45 years and have two terrific sons, Mike and Tim; two fabulous daughter-in-laws, Emily and Casey; and six wonderful grandchildren Emma, Jacob, identical twin girls, Kate and Beth , Dorothea (Dodo to her friends) and Agatha (Gatty to her friends). Everything I have achieved I owe to their understanding, encouragement and support.
To catch a glimpse of some of those mentioned, please click: Photographs
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